“After two years we felt that we could approach your sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too—‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ The old gentlemen smiled and nodded and felt the years were well spent. It brought them out of their Chinese shells too, and right now they are studying Greek.”
Samuel said, “It’s a fantastic story. And I’ve tried to follow and maybe I’ve missed somewhere. Why is this word so important?”
Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’”
– John Steinbeck, East of Eden
East of Eden is my favorite book of all time, and I knew the moment I first read these three paragraphs that I had encountered something profound. I think the words “thou mayest” are emblematic of the balance of free will, equal parts all-encompassing possibility and personal morality, and that’s an emblem I don’t mind having on my body forever. 2012 was the year of no regrets, and getting my first tattoo hasn’t upset the year’s theme: I love my tattoo, and I’m glad I did it. Now, on to the next.
My tattoo was done by Chris at Liberty Tattoo in Seattle, Washington.
Posted in 24 Before 25, Literary Giants, The Life de la Kendall
Tagged 24 before 25, east of eden, free will, freedom, john steinbeck, liberty tattoo, morality, possibility, regret, tattoo, thou mayest
One of the perks of dating a band manager is that sometimes you get to attend outdoor music festivals in the mountains of eastern Washington for free. On Friday night, we packed my car with provisions for the weekend and drove out to Darrington, the location of the groovy Summer Meltdown, to pitch our tents alongside the weirdest crowd of people I’ve ever found myself among. And I mean that as a compliment. We probably spent more time people-watching than we did watching live music because there was such a huge spectrum of strangeness: we saw a man in a speedo offering blueberries to passersby, girls in bikini tops and neon-colored tutus, folks in full-body green man costumes and a perpetually shirtless guy swimming in the river with his pet tortoise. I think we all thought it was really refreshing, though, to see people who were completely unpretentious and unabashed lovers of music come together and dance like they didn’t give a damn, because they didn’t, and be so free and un-self-conscious. It was kind of inspiring. There is much we can learn from the weirdos of the world.
Here are a couple photos from the weekend:
1. So many Westfalias. 2. Sunshine in the woods. 3. I almost bought some of nature’s jewelry. It seemed like a good idea in the moment. 4. Getting melty. 5. Stacked stones at the river. 6. Ben and Jill, trying to pretend they’re in a tropical locale and not staring at the guy in a speedo behind me. 7. Over-the-shoulder speedo shot = maybe the highlight of my weekend. 8. True Spokes brought out some of the UW marching band for a few songs, which you’re allowed to do if you invented Summer Meltdown. 9. Jill, tortoise whisperer. 10. Where everyone in attendance was from. Lots of homies from South America, surprisingly. 11. The daily view.
Every day for the past week, it seems like someone I know has either announced that they’re engaged or that they’re pregnant. A girl I went to youth group with in high school just had her third baby. My middle school arch-nemesis just got engaged. A boy I sort-of dated four years ago is expecting a baby with his wife. The amount of baby- and wedding-related news in my Facebook news feed is mind-boggling.
It would be a lie if I said I wasn’t weirded out by all of it. Two years ago, if someone my age was getting married or having a baby, they were considered young. But now, at the ripe old age of twenty-four, it’s not simply socially acceptable, it’s normal. And when a life milestone of that magnitude becomes normal for a person your age, you can’t help but compare yourself to those who are collecting those milestones like pirate’s booty when you yourself don’t even have a map. Perhaps that sounds like a plea for pity, but it’s not, I promise: while I sometimes feel pangs of envy at other people’s engagements and pregnancies, I mostly feel like my life is more awesome for not having those things for myself.
I think what weirds me out the most is that if things had happened only slightly differently, that could have been me. I could be celebrating my first wedding anniversary this year, or I could be gestating a colloquial bun in my oven. And two years ago, that was exactly what I wanted! It just shocks me how much my dreams have changed since then: where I once saw a wedding and a husband and children, I now see travel and an advanced degree and the potential for a creatively satisfying career and freedom.
Does that sound selfish? Maybe it is. But I’m still going to call it freedom. Because this will be the only time in my life that I can move to Europe, or anywhere else in the world, without having to answer to anyone else. This will be the only time in my life where I can spend my money on whatever stupid thing I want because it’s my money and no one else’s. This will be the only time in my life where my identity is wholly my own, where I can be Kendall Goodwin without also being someone’s wife or someone’s mom. And I like all of that. I like being independent and I like doing things that I want to do and I like knowing that I’ll always be on time, and I want to hang on to that until I’m good and ready to let go because I know I will never have more freedom than I have right now. I want my twenties to be a monument to awesomeness, and I want to experience every adventure I dream of before my life is no longer just about me anymore. If I have kids, I want to have great stories to tell them, and I want them to be in disbelief that their lame mom could have done so many cool things. I want to wake up when I’m thirty-five and feel satisfied with my life instead of regretful at the things I didn’t get around to.
I don’t scoff at anyone my age who chooses to get married or have kids, and I don’t pity them either. I bet their lives are wonderful and miraculous in a way that I couldn’t possibly understand, but I also know that, at this point in my life, I’m not prepared to understand it. I’d probably like to get married someday, and the jury is still out on having children, but it’s all a long way off. So until then, here’s to not regretting what I didn’t do in my twenties.
This video took my breath away the first time I watched it. Although it’s strange to see the diminutive Annie Clark as a Gulliver’s Travels-inspired giantess, the concept is brilliant and visually stunning, with giant-Annie on display as a sort of art installation, a spectacle, who tries to liberate herself from a role she no longer wishes to play. Within the details, there’s a juxtaposition of fragility and self-determination that is just powerful. And I’ll just come out and say it: Annie Clark is a goddess and a beauty, even with her limbs breaking off.